I was having trouble thinking of what to write this week. I wanted to do something about Christmas, but what? So, I asked myself why Christmas means so much to me. Why I am a Christmas nut who wears Christmas shirts and sweaters every day from December 1st to December 25th and who puts up her Christmas tree the minute November 1st hits? After some thinking, I realized why Christmas has such a hold me—it’s the hope that comes with the holiday. Christmas drips with hope, and I know of few things that are more powerful than hope. I’m not talking about the “hope” that politicians (on both sides) bandy about during debates and speeches. Rather, I’m speaking of, well . . . actually, I’m talking about different levels of hope. Let me explain.
There’s the more superficial types of hope where you look at the shining gifts under the tree and hope that there is something wonderful for you and that the people you’re giving gifts to will enjoy what you’ve gotten them. There’s the promise of warmth, laughter, tradition, and decadent food. Like in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you hope that special memories will be made that you can someday remember with fondness as you sit freezing in the attic, wearing women’s clothing to keep warm while you wait for your family to return home from Christmas shopping. (On a side note, you’re not going to get this reference if you haven’t seen the movie.) Sometimes you make great memories, sometimes you make memories that you wish you could forget, and sometimes you make memories that seem awful at the time but that you laugh about years later. Each Christmas, you hope.
Christmas also brings about the hope that we can change other people’s lives for the better. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Christmas Angel (and if you haven’t, go rent it right now; here’s the IMBD link: Christmas Angel), you’ll understand. In the movie, Nick, Ashley, and Will try to find ways to improve people’s lives, and through the course of the movie, the characters and the audience realize that everyone needs something. Sometimes that something can be bought with money. Other times that something takes a little more thought and creativity. I think that around Christmas, many of us can’t stop hoping that maybe, just maybe, we can improve someone else’s life, even if it’s just a little bit.
Then, there’s the hope that has to do with helping ourselves. For example, take the book and/or movie A Christmas Carol. Scrooge eventually hopes that his fate can be changed for the better, and isn’t that something that most us hope for—that we can change our own lives for the better?
Lastly, I believe that there’s a hope for someone saving us. For Christians, this is the essence of the Christmas story—that someone cares enough to save humans and to think that humans are worth saving despite what we may have done. I’m not going to get preachy, but it is Christmas. 🙂 One of my favorite quotes is Luke 2:8-14. Yes, it’s the Linus quote from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Hear me out though. I won’t totally nerd out on you, but the words themselves have a sing-song softness that is pleasant to the mind’s ear, the passage has a beautiful image (I mean, imagine the sky filled with glowing angels), and the quote is meant to be egalitarian by saying “to all people.” That’s a lot to pack into a seven-line long passage, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Still, while there’s beauty in the language, I feel like some of the passage’s greatest beauty lies in the message: here’s the beginning of hope.
So, as we move into Christmas, I hope that all of you have a wonderful holiday and that you continue to hope. Hope for the small things, hope for the big things, and even hope for the seemingly impossible things. Merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, and happy Kwanzaa. (There, now no one can get offended. Huzzah!)